The Associated Press
SYLVA, N.C.- Law officers expanded their search Friday for a man who authorities say pushed his way into a domestic violence shelter and shot his wife to death.
John "Woody" Raymond Woodring, 35, is believed to have fled in a stolen car and is considered armed and dangerous, authorities said.
He already was wanted on domestic violence charges after allegedly violating a protecting order and trying to strangle his wife at her home Sept. 14.
Bonnie Woodring, 48, moved into the domestic violence shelter after that attack. On Monday night, her husband, armed with a shotgun, pushed past a staff worker who was leaving the shelter for the night, then shot his wife in the kitchen, investigators said.
Bonnie Woodring and her 13-year-old son from a previous relationship were the shelter's only occupants. The boy heard the shooting from another room, but was not hurt.
The shelter has panic buttons, an alarm system and locks on every window and door, but its location is not secret. Woodring shouldered his way in when the worker opened the door, police said.
Each county decides whether to keep its shelter secret, and some choose instead to warn abusers that the sites have heightened security, said April Burgess-Johnson, coordinated community response specialist for the N.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Some advocates agree a shelter is difficult to hide in a rural area.
Police Chief Jeff Jamison said law enforcement agencies in other states are joining in the manhunt and the search may go nationwide. Sylva is in the far western corner of North Carolina, adjacent to Tennessee, and Woodring has family in Pennsylvania.
Woodring was believed to have fled in a blue Honda Civic stolen from a neighbor who also reported a shotgun missing, police said. Jamison said Woodring's own car had been impounded when they tried to arrest him last week on the domestic violence charge.
On his Web site, Woodring begged for forgiveness in one of his last messages to his wife. He promised he would change and the violence would end.
That message was similar to a newspaper advertisement he paid for almost 10 years ago that sought to win back a previous wife after he was charged with assaulting her.
Woodring also was a graduate student and teaching assistant at Western Carolina University, where he was seeking a degree in counseling.
The university does not usually check the criminal backgrounds of its graduate student teachers, said Leila Tvedt, associate vice chancellor for public relations. Reports about criminal history, if received by the school, would trigger such a search, she said.
"I can assure you that if it had come to their attention they would have examined it closely," she said.